Ever since he first set foot in the UK to play music at the 2017 Country2Country Festival, Drake White has had the hearts of the UK country fans. The rootsy, soulful crooner knocked people over with his passionate performances both at the festival and during his support slot on Kip Moore’s November tour. This year he returns to the UK for his first headline tour, following on from the release of his new five song EP Pieces (read our review here).We recently spoke to him to catch up before the tour.
We’re coming hot off the heels of ‘Pieces’, your new five song EP, how have you found the reception to the record?
It’s been good. We are very satisfied with the way that it’s going. Just playing it out live and seeing people react to it is very pleasing.
You decided to do it as a digital EP. Is it something that you wanted to do just to fill that gap before another album and give people a taster?
No. The intention is, the Pieces element to it, I believe that in this straining world with the “I gotta have it right now” “I gotta have it tomorrow” type of mentality that people are experience, I believe that it’s important that we serve those fans and that we keep something current out there. I’m taking a new stance on the way that we release music and I’m releasing it in pieces. We’re going out with these five tunes and those are going to do what they do in the marketplace but in the next couple of months we’re going to release two or three more, then a month or so after that we’re going to release two or three more. This goes hand in hand with the comment that I will always see myself releasing a body of work, I will always see myself releasing an album as well because you’re always working on a body of work and that is my intention. I also think that, if you write a song, release the song! Release it and then put them together in albums. Have an overarching idea of what the album is forming itself into but release more and keep it current. It don’t have to be two years between albums and you can constantly release music!
I guess you’re right, that is the culture that we live in where we want everything right now. So the albums are still important to you?
Exactly. We’ll always do albums. As an artist that’s how art is created, streaming is how commerce is created! You have to find a place where art and commerce can intercept, that’s always evolving and it’s always moving so we have to chase it. The answer that I came up with is just release more music! Release your albums and have your vinyls, I’m always going to press my music to vinyl where the nostalgic person can go upstairs and pour their tea or coffee, they can sit by the record player and listen to it because that’s what I like to do. I’m also going to be appealing to that 17, 18, 22 year old girl or guy that’s out in their Jeep’s or their cars jamming and they want something now.
I think you’re right, it’s a great way to fulfill everyone’s needs. Like we said last time you were over here, there is such a great love for albums, for listening to a record from start to finish in the UK. It’s great that you’re meeting those needs.
For sure. I’m very excited about it.
Speaking musically about the record, do you feel like there is much of a departure from ‘Spark’?
I think it’s definitely evolved but I think there’s a common heart beat through all of it. You can still hear the thread. That’s always been my intention. I am who I am and we’re going to change and evolve, we always should be, at the same time I built that foundation with Spark and I have an allegiance to Spark but I’m going to experiment with different sounds and things and producers. I’m in in a different part of life and this part of life, I’m 34 years old with a great wife, we’re in love and we’ve got that thing going on and that’s what the music is talking about. From the sonic sound of it, being from Alabama and as close to Muscle Shoals as I am, I’ve always imagined my music as soul-country. I’ve always imagined it as the bridge between Nashville and Muscle Shoals, that’s kind of what we went for and achieved with these songs.
It still feels like you could be sat by a campfire listening to a lot of these songs but then you have the opening track ‘Girl in Pieces’, which is possibly a little more ‘radio friendly’. Is that an intentional thing to try and get into that mainstream radio market a little more or is it just a natural evolution?
A little of both! There’s no reason to beat around the bush, I’ve got a lot of great relationships at country radio in the States and, you know, to play the game is to win the game! You’ve got to play it to win it. We’re out there trying to move the chess pieces and strategically go after it but at the same time keep it light and fun and go out there and rock it. Girl in Pieces feels like a radio smash to me but it’s also different, it’s also funky and fun and has that reggae vibe to it. You could sit on the beach and hang out but, guess what? Guess what’s resonating with the girls? Girl in Pieces is! Guess what’s resonating with young people? With my 14 year old nephew? He calls up me like “hey, Girl in Pieces is a smash!” Then you’ve got Grandpa’s Farm which is your bearded buddies out there at 35-40 years old riding their tractors. The guys that like Allman Brothers or The Band, they’re gonna love Grandpa’s Farm and After Midnight becuase there’s a throwback vibe to it. Girl in Pieces, get on a boat, get on a boat in some open water and listen to Girl in Pieces, it feels good or I wouldn’t have recorded it! I love what it says, it’s mine and Alex’s story, I didn’t even write it but I resonate with it!
It feels like the soundtrack to the summer! Moving on a little bit to your touring. Last time we spoke you were on your UK tour with Kip Moore which has continued into the States. From social media, it seems like you guys have been bouncing off each other quite a lot out there. It must have been good fun?
Yeah. We’re just brothers. I love Kip and I love what he stands for. He’s got a backbone and an opinion. He’s a true artist. He’s helped me out down the road, he’s had a couple of hits that have afforded him a couple of buses and tours. Our music feeds off each other and I told him that he’s gonna have to bring it if I’m going to open up for him because I’m gonna bring that shit every night! We just laugh, we skateboard a bit together, we hang out, we do some working out and he’s just a good guy! It’s a friendship and it’s as sincere as it seems on social media. We’re just out there trying to have a good time, trying to serve people and love on fans.
The tour you guys did here went down a storm! Speaking off that, you’re back over here later this year for your first headline tour. How excited are you for that?
It’s one of the highlights of my year! It really is! I’ve always considered myself a nomadic person, the band has always wanted to be in Europe, wanted to be all over the world really! Asia, Canada, Australia, I wanna see the places, the people, I feel alive meeting new people! I feel inspired when I’m seeing new cultures, new things, new architecture, new poetry, new art. It’s the best feeling ever! I love what’s happening in Europe for us and I love what’s happening with the fans, I owe it all to them, they know all of the songs on Spark and they’ve demanded us back. It’s kind of somewhere that I can hang my hat, I picture myself having a flat in London one day! My wife loves it, she’s a chef, she loves the food there! The city is one of the best, if not the best in the world and I just love being a world traveller! I love being over there and learning new things but most importantly those fans! They know all the damn music! How fun is that? My Mom always said “go where you’re celebrated, not tolerated”.
It seems like a long time since you first appeared at C2C last year but you’re now so well loved by UK fans. From your perspective, why do you think there is such a connection?
I think where I’m from geographically, there’s stories, there’s campfires that we sit around, there’s a slow paced way of life. When I go onstage it’s kind of like me taking my clothes off and just standing there naked because I’m vulnerable and it’s honest, there’s an energy there that I would like to think sets us apart. Those people are like “holy shit! This guy is going for it!” and it’s refreshing to see that for them. I don’t mean to brag on myself, that’s not what I’m trying to do, I’m just trying to answer your question. I think people are inspired by the amount of, I call it, ‘not-give-a-damness’, it’s just like we’re gonna go out there and have a good time. Our goal is to serve those fans, I belong to you for this hour and a half or two hours and that’s what this headline tour is going to be about. It’s going to be the most energy, the most fun, the most running around, I’m gonna stage dive, I’m gonna climb all over everything, I’m gonna get in the stands and sweat with you, I’m gonna dance with you, I’m gonna jam with you. It’s gonna be a shit load of fun! I want people to have a good time!
My final question, I know that you’ve been over here a few times now, what’s the thing that you look forward to most about coming to the UK?
One of the things that I get excited about over there is the kind of breakdown acoustic set, when I did the songwriters series over there, I love that part of the show. I love to walk around London. I love to explore. Wherever I’m at, not have a particular place in mind to go and just kind of have four or five hours to do that. I love doing that!